On Friday, October 16, 1863 Abraham Lincoln telegraphed General Henry Halleck, stoically noting: “If Gen. Meade can now attack him [Lee] on a field no worse than equal for us, and will do so with all the skill and courage, which he, his officers and men possess, the honor will be his if he succeeds, and the blame will be mine if he fails.”
On Friday, October 16, 1863 the Union War Department created the Military Division of the Mississippi, combining the former Departments of the Ohio, Cumberland, and the Tennessee, under the command of General Ullyses Grant, the conqueror of Vicksburg, Mississippi.
On Thursday, October 15, 1863 in the harbor of Charlestown, South Carolina the H.L. Hunley, destined to change the nature of naval warfare, sank for a second time during a practice dive. Just two months earlier in August, the ship had sunk during a training exercise, killing five members of her crew.
After raising the ship, Confederate authorities had requested that the ship’s inventor H.L. Hunley assist in the training of the crew. Unfortunately H.L. Hunley was one of eight men killed during her second sinking.
By Wednesday, October 14, 1863 Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia, using a pattern similar to that of the Second Battle of Manassas in 1862, closed in on Manassas and Washington, D.C. George Meade, now aware of Lee’s position, moved his Union forces quickly to interdict Lee.
On Tuesday, October 13, 1863 Abraham Lincoln was pleased to learn that voters in the North had rejected the Peace Democrats and Northern Copperheads. Especially satisfying for Lincoln was the defeat of Clement Vallandigham, the notorious Copperhead who ran for governor of Ohio, despite having campaigned by mail while in exile in Canada.
While Jefferson Davis visited with Bragg in north Georgia, Abraham Lincoln remained in Washington, D.C., maintaining a continuing dialogue with numerous politicians and his field generals. With Lee’s army threatening Washington, D.C., the president sent many messages to George Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac.
On Tuesday, October 6, 1863 Confederate President Jefferson Davis left Richmond, Virginia on a trip to Charlestown, South Carolina and to north Georgia to visit Braxton Bragg’s army besieging William Rosecrans’ Union forces at Chattanooga.
On Monday, October 12, 1863 Abraham Lincoln wired General George Meade, asking “What news this morning?” Rumors had reached Washington, D.C. about the Army of Northern Virginia’s movements, and the president was very concerned.
On Friday, October 9, 1863 Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia began crossing the Rapidan River in an attempt to move against Washington, D.C. Lee hoped to take advantage of Meade’s army, reduced in size due to reinforcements sent to Rosecrans in the West, while also preventing any further transfers.
The size of the Army of the Potomac still greatly exceeded that of Lee’s force, but the North feared Lee’s military prowess. On October 10, Abraham Lincoln wired George Meade, asking “How is it now?”
During the early days of October 1863 Confederate cavalry raiders actively harassed Union forces throughout the South. Confederate cavalry under General Joseph Wheeler, having previous destroyed a Union supply train, skirmished near Readyville, Tennessee and then destroyed an important railroad bridge over Stone’s River near Murfreesboro, temporarily disrupting the Union supply line to its troops in Chattanooga.